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No | © Sony Pictures Classics
No | © Sony Pictures Classics
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7 Chilean Movies You Need to Watch

Picture of Elizabeth Trovall
Updated: 15 March 2017
These top-notch films by the best Chilean directors each occupies an important place in Latin American cinema. Cook up some cabritas, or “popcorn” in Chilean-Spanish, and feast on these excellent local films.

Machuca (2004)

There are few movies that so authentically and poignantly capture the human story behind the Chilean dictatorship and intense division that came with General Pinochet’s violent rule. The movie takes place during the months leading up to the dictatorship when Pedro Machuca, a working class Chilean boy, starts attending one of the country’s finest private schools and befriends the privileged student Gonzalo. As their friendship develops, the audience sees class and political divides pulling each kid back into their worlds, one of wealth and safety, the other of poverty and violence. Chilean filmmaker Andrés Wood directed Machuca, which earned a nomination for Best Iberoamerican Film at the 2005 Ariel Awards.

Machuca © Menemsha Entertainment
Machuca | © Menemsha Entertainment

No (2012)

Learn about the marketing campaign that helped put an end to 17 years of dictatorship in Chile. Starring Mexico’s talented Gael García Bernal, No is a truly unique film about the genius of a high-stakes 1980s’ advertising campaign and the brains behind it. This Oscar-nominated film garnered accolades around the world when it was released in 2012, in part for director Pablo Larraín’s decision to shoot the movie using three-quarter-inch Sony U-matic magnetic tape, adding an authentic 80s’ look to the film.

Gloria (2013)

Single again at 58, Gloria Cumplido is using her new life situation as an excuse to live big. Acted with authenticity and charm by the multifaceted Chilean actress Paulina García, Gloria’s role illuminates the ups and downs and everything in between of being single and free – yet not so young. Chilean Sebastián Lelio directed Gloria, which was released in 2013 when it received widespread critical acclaim and won Paulina García the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.

Gloria © Fabula
Gloria | © Fabula

El Chacotero Sentimental (1999)

Inspired by stories of romance, love and sexual encounters from the real-life radio program of Chilean DJ el Rumpy, El Chacotero Sentimental, or “The Sentimental Teaser,” is a titillating 1999 film that doesn’t hold back. A multitude of Chileans tuned in to el Rumpy’s legendary program, making it an ideal subject for this entertaining film about passion and storytelling.

Nostalgia de la Luz (2010)

Chile’s well-regarded documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán weaves together a fascinating story about memory, the legacy of humanity, and human atrocity in this stunning and poignant documentary. Nostalgia de la Luz, or “Nostalgia for the Light,” centers around interviews with astronomers searching for answers about humanity’s beginning and conversations with distraught women looking for the physical remains of their loved ones killed during the Chilean dictatorship.

El Chacal de Nahueltoro (1969)

This gritty 1969 film directed by Miguel Littín centers around the true story of an impoverished drunk who murders a woman and her five children. El Chacal de Nahueltoro, or “Jackal of Nahueltoro,” follows the Chilean criminal before and after committing these heinous crimes and continues through his redemptive time waiting on death row and ultimate execution.

Jackal of Nahueltoro © Universidad Catolica de Chile
Jackal of Nahueltoro | © Universidad Catolica de Chile

La Nana (2009)

The award-winning Chilean film La Nana, or “The Maid,” directed by Sebastián Silva digs into the experiences of Raquel, a Chilean maid who has worked in the house of the wealthy Valdes family for over two decades. Showing the details, drama and human relationships of Raquel’s daily life, the film captures the intimate experiences of domestic workers, in part thanks to the brilliant acting of Catalina Saavedra, who won several awards for her portrayal of Raquel.